The Missouri General Assembly hasn't learned from its UMKC experiences.

Indecent Liberties 

The Missouri General Assembly hasn't learned from its UMKC experiences.

The Missouri General Assembly would like to be the final authority on all subjects, not just pedophilia.

UMKC political-science professor Harris Mirkin has the nerve to quote research that found some minors don't resist or resent sex with adults. He also notes that, as any historian knows, pedophilia has not been taboo in all cultures. And he points out that homosexuality was once just as reviled and unacceptable to American society as pedophilia is today.

Certain facts just shouldn't be spoken or written, apparently. Senator John Loudon and the rest of the legislature are slashing UMKC's state funding by $100,000 because Mirkin hasn't been fired for such talk.

A look at history reveals that the lawmakers are equal-opportunity censors, disabling the First Amendment for scholars regardless of political persuasion. Conservative UMKC law professor Kris Kobach incited a budget-cutting frenzy in 1999, and not because he'd been taking his Missouri paycheck across the state line to Overland Park, where he served on the city council.

"I published an op-ed piece in The Kansas City Star, which described some of the legislative missteps that occur at the end of the session," says Kobach. Here's the remedy he proposed: "Now is the time for the few lawyers left in the statehouses to step forward and put their training to work."

Dennis Bonner, a House Democrat from Independence, took exception and then took $2.6 million away from UMKC. "He, on a voice vote late in the day, moved to deny funding for a new science building," Kobach recalls. "I was naturally astonished. It seemed like a pretty clear example of punishing free political speech."

Mirkin's take: "They were pissed off that anyone would say they don't know everything."

In 1999, the Senate finally put the Kobach cut back into the university's budget, but Mirkin's punishment may stay in place; both the House and Senate have approved it.

Kobach declined to comment on Mirkin's situation, although he thinks his own battle was over "a much clearer issue."

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